The Christian church has, for the entirety of its existence, tried to walk the often vague line between being in the world and of the world.
One of the most difficult stretches of this line is where the world’s idea of justice and godly justice overlap–or don’t.
Christians have always been lured into the vernacular of popular civil rights movements, often for good reason. The American Civil Rights movement of the 60’s was decidedly Christian, while it was quickly swept away with the language of progressivism and even Marxism, and, well, here we are today with the mess of National Anthem protests and misleading narratives about black crime and police deaths.
While progressive often exploit the experience of the so-called “marginalized” to wet the public’s pallet for authoritarianism, there is no denying that the Bible speaks quite unfavorably of those in power oppressing those that are not, and that racism, sexual abuse, and corruption among those in power are things that any Christian will stand firmly against.
But granted how unbiblical, and often downright anti-Christian, the modern social justice movement is, should we really be making room for it in the church?
Scott Aniol discussed why we see social justice in the church, and the valid concerns of including these narratives in Christian culture in The Christian Post last week:
I think two cultural matters sparked recent tensions within evangelicalism over social issues, and they were occurring around the same time: immigration policy (especially with Islamic refugees attempting to enter the US) and prominent shootings of African Americans (including Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown). Sexuality entered the mix with claims that some evangelicals were starting to soften their views concerning homosexuality. These funneled into the 2016 Presidential election, with Donald Trump’s personal behavior and rhetoric adding fuel to an already growing fire.
Several prominent evangelicals raised strong opinions about immigration, refugees, shootings, and Trump, creating tension among evangelicals over political and social matters that appears to be unprecedented.
Naturally, many Christians instantly gave pause to this growing trend. But is it out of callousness…or reasoned speculation?
So why are some of us concerned about these recent conferences and discussions? Are we against justice? Are we in favor of racism?
Hardly. It is simply irresponsible and dishonest to claim, as I have seen many times on social media, that those who are concerned about recent evangelical “social justice” movements are in favor of injustice or racism. Such a claim is an unfortunate straw man.
What we are concerned about is how such discussions are being framed, how terms are being redefined, and the influence of secular leftist ideology on such discussions.
Part of the problem, he explains, is the ever-growing trend of identity politic intersectionality, which is, by definition, unbiblical:
Scripture does have the category of ethnicity, which biblically refers to various people groups unified by geography, politics, heritage, and culture (e.g. Rev. 7:9). But the problem is that many evangelicals have also adopted the common practice of equating ethnicity and culture, which is also invalid biblically. Ethnicity refers to a group of people united and living together, while culture refers to the common behaviors of a group of people. The two categories are not equivalent. All people of every ethnicity are equally good and made in God’s image, while cultures (understood as systems of behavior) are produced by beliefs, values, and worldviews, and thus may be better or worse when compared to the values, beliefs and patterns of behavior advocated in Scripture (1 Peter 1:13-19).
Secular racists (like white supremacists) and leftists (like multiculturalists) perpetuate these confusions over race, ethnicity, and culture. The former assumes that one group is genetically superior to another. The latter assumes that all ways of life are equally good and valid. Neither is biblical.
At the end of the day, it is this author’s humble opinion that not only do we not need any extra definition of or plans for social justice in the church, it is quite literally adding to God’s word to adopt the world’s thinking on these things.
The language of social justice is distinctly worldly, and with that comes widespread acceptance of many things that are definitively opposed to God’s word, like homosexuality, disregard for parental authority, gender confusion, and ultimately, the worship of the state as the ultimate arbiter of justice.
If you’re a Christian you believe that only Christ can bring about perfect justice, and until then, it is by abiding and putting your trust and faith in Him and defending His Word that is good and true. Nothing else.